Inside Burning Man it felt just like outside: dark, cold and lonely. Plus, dusty. I'm sad to say I enjoyed the long way to BRC, and the long (LONG!) way out much, much more - 3500 miles of me, my rental car, my GPS navigator and country music on the car stereo, and the amazing open spaces of Nevada, the Four Corners and the Midwest. And Jack Links brand beef jerky (vile junk, but addictive as fuck)
I felt like a fucking thief leaving on Saturday night/Sunday morning, full of shame, trying as hard as I could to tear down and pack in before my super-nice neighbors came back from the burn (but I wasn't ninja-stealth enough). I fucking fled the place, leaving behind two boxes of supplies (which I hope were useful to the cleanup crew), with a really stupid goodbye note to the neighbors pinned to them. I was in such a hurry I even fell asleep at the wheel a couple times (the Chevy sedan that ran over a sign and broke off a wheel well on early Sunday morning? that'd be me), before giving up and pulling over to snooze a little (the guy sleeping in a Chevy sedan parked by the side of Hwy 447 on early Sunday morning? that'd be me)
I was already feeling like shit for a few days, and I kinda sorta avoided getting to BRC at all for a couple days, taking long unplanned detours (to you, that may be the "default world"; to me, it was the goddamn fucking U.S. of fucking Awesome). The final preparation was exhausting as well: I couldn't bring all the stuff from home (somewhere in Europe), as I was already barely within my baggage allowance, so I had to stop by a Walmart supercenter one afternoon to buy tons more shit (I guess that, on top of everything else, this makes me a Walmart camper); then I had to shuffle around all my baggage, ziploc-bagging the valuable stuff, organizing a day-pack, etc. under the watchful eye of one harpy of a motel manager who let me overstay for a mind-blowing 30 minutes past check-out time. Absolutely exhausting, as was the post-burn cleanup and reshuffling of baggage into "road trip" configuration, and the final reshuffling into "TSA-safe" configuration a week later
I tried really hard to enjoy it, from the group hug at the greeters', to the face paint I got as a virgin, to the free food and drinks coming pretty much from everywhere, the compliments (my cheapo pinstripe polyester suit earned me a "sharpest dressed man on the playa" comment, not to mention all the love for the flower dress), all the nice people... on burn night I gifted blinkies and glowsticks to random darktards on the plaza, I got help setting up camp in exchange for some of my water, I had amazing neighbors (whom I regretted deserting like an asshole from the minute I did; and yes, I am trying hard not to name names, I'm still horribly ashamed for how soon and stealthily I left), I found a random abandoned junk bike next to my tent right when I needed it the most... everything was pretty much perfect, and I still felt like shit. The atmosphere just wasn't what I expected. All the unaltered rental RVs and moving vans with huge fuckoff logos were very depressing (although the U-Haul vans with random facts were so bizarre to me that they felt more credible than some attempts at BM art). Being repeatedly refused rides on art cars when I was on foot in the middle of the plaza ("this is a private party" - say whaaat?) was very, very depressing. The blinding sea of whiteness (and I'm not referring to the playa) was extremely depressing. People outside BRC accurately avoiding any eye-contact with someone who clearly was a fellow burner, while at the same time getting compliments and questions about BM and human interaction from random country yokels and store clerks: super depressing. And then tons of small stuff, like almost all theme camps looking closed/abandoned or otherwise unwelcoming, all the "circling the wagons"-style camps, what looked like the whole West coast raver scene, the white-hetero-male-friendly sexuality displays, the expectation to party everywhere all the time, the dirty looks you got for asking for alcohol-free stuff at bars, all the damn golf carts with huge blinding headlights, and what the fuck was the deal with the limo anyway?
To me, BM was not a life-changing experience at all: just more of the same shit I experience the rest of the year, except with blinkie lights, and smack in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. And dusty. I understand the potential, though, and I'll be back next year, hoping to get more than another week-long anxiety-ridden downer
Upside: the fucking fishing yacht on wheels. I was absolutely flabbergasted every single time I saw it. Every single damn time. It never got any less weird or awesome
Last edited by On.The.Road
on Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:48 am, edited 2 times in total.